Homelessness is on the rise in the UK. Along with the causes that are becoming more apparent everyday throughout the UK, the effects this has on the people who experience homeless can almost be too large to report. We will talk about homelessness, the causes, the effects, children who become homeless and the ways some organisations and charities are helping to prevent it or help those who are already homeless.
The four types of homelessness
According to Crisis there are four types of homelessness:
Rough sleeping is the most visible and dangerous form of homelessness. The more time someone is rough sleeping the more likely they are to face problems such as, mental health issues, trauma and drug problems.
Local authorities have a duty to find and secure a home for some groups. This is often referred to as the main homelessness duty.
To be legally defined as homeless you must either lack a secure place to live or not reasonably be able to stay in your current place. Authorities may initially provide temporary accommodation to those who meet a certain criterion, for example those with children.
Many people who are not entitled to help with housing, or who don’t approach authorities for help, aren’t counted in statistics. Many find themselves living in hostels, squats or B&Bs, in overcrowded accommodation or ‘concealed’ housing, such as on sofas or floors of people they know.
At risk of homelessness
Some people are more at risk of being pushed into homelessness. People in lower paying jobs, those already living in poverty and those who are living in poor quality or insecure housing are more likely to experience homelessness.
What causes homelessness in the UK?
When a family loses their home, it is undoubtably one of the worst things to happen. Homelessness frequently occurs because of many circumstances, such as a failed relationship, debt, which can be caused deteriorating mental health and can certainly make it worst, rising costs and other social and national issues. There are of course other mitigating factors, but the few we have listed are found to be some of the biggest contributors.
According to councils, benefits freezes, skyrocketing food and energy costs, with the repeal of Covid eviction prohibitions would result in a “tidal wave” of need that will increase the number of homeless people in England by a third by 2024.
Homelessness in numbers
According to Local Government Association since 2010 there has been a rise in homelessness in the UK. The estimated number of people who are homeless in the UK now is around 227,000 which is a huge jump in number from 207,600 in 2018. For many experts this a very worrying trend and as the cost of living goes up and wage increases freeze, it will be inevitable that people will find themselves in financial hardship and face the possibility of being homeless.
Homelessness and mental health
People who experience homelessness have been reported to have worse health and wellbeing than the housed population of the UK.
Those who are homeless frequently face the most severe health problems and the longer a person stays homeless, especially after they reach early adulthood, the greater the risk to their health and wellbeing. Though this is not always the case, and you obviously don’t have to be homeless to experience mental health problems, research has shown that this can be a contributing or worsening factor.
Homelessness and children
The Temple Street report notes that homelessness affects “every aspect of a child’s life from conception to adolescence” and that “the experience of homelessness impacts a child’s physical, emotional, cognitive, social and behavioural development.” They also note that the effects of homelessness begin “long before the child is born.” Malnutrition during pregnancy affects the child’s future because of its adverse health effects. Homeless women face many obstacles to a healthy pregnancy, including lack of antenatal care.
It has been reported that children and young people who are homeless are more prone to feel anxiety and stress, which can lead to depression and behavioural problems. These issues can then follow the individuals into adulthood, without the early intervention from support groups and charities, the problems that start with young homelessness can escalate into a larger problem for the individual.
What is being done about homelessness in the UK?
The Homelessness Reduction Act of 2017 will make it easier for all households at risk of homelessness to receive assistance from local housing authorities and will mandate earlier action to avoid homelessness. This offers a genuine chance to lessen homelessness, especially for groups who have historically had difficulty accessing resources. Success depends largely on the availability of adequate resources, genuinely affordable rental housing, and a widespread willingness among local system officials to contribute to prevention. Many argue that this act is not going far enough is not delving into some of the deeper set issues of why people become homeless but instead trying to offer an easy solution to the homelessness in the UK.
This is why many charities such as Crisis are supporting thousands of homeless people and homeless families every year by providing them the services they need to be able to find new homes, new employment opportunities or are helping to keep them safe whilst living without a home.
Homelessness is every town in the UK and some people wrongly assume that it must have been ‘their fault’ and ‘they are not trying’. This is a long way from the truth and the reality of the situation and more needs to be done to ensure that those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and offered the best support and guidance.